may almost say, perfect accuracy into the oval hole, the

"Till the noon, it may be," answered Alessandro; "and when he wakes, you will see by his eye that he is another man."

may almost say, perfect accuracy into the oval hole, the

It was indeed so. When Felipe first looked about him, he laughed outright with pure pleasure. Then catching sight of Alessandro at the steps, he called, in a stronger voice than had yet been heard from him, "Alessandro, you are a famous physician. Why couldn't that fool from Ventura have known as much? With all his learning, he had had me in the next world before many days, except for you. Now, Alessandro, breakfast! I'm hungry. I had forgotten what the thought of food was like to a hungry stomach. And plenty! plenty!" he called, as Alessandro ran toward the kitchen. "Bring all they have."

may almost say, perfect accuracy into the oval hole, the

When the Senora saw Felipe bolstered up in the bed, his eye bright, his color good, his voice clear, eating heartily like his old self, she stood like a statue in the middle of the veranda for a moment; then turning to Alessandro, she said chokingly, "May Heaven reward you!" and disappeared abruptly in her own room. When she came out, her eyes were red. All day she moved and spoke with a softness unwonted, indeed inconceivable. She even spoke kindly and without constraint to Ramona. She felt like one brought back from the dead.

may almost say, perfect accuracy into the oval hole, the

After this, a new sort of life began for them all. Felipe's bed on the veranda was the rallying point for everything and everybody.. The servants came to look up at him, and wish him well, from the garden-walk below. Juan Can, when he first hobbled out on the stout crutches Alessandro had made him of manzanita wood, dragged himself all the way round the house, to have a look at Senor Felipe and a word with him. The Senora sat there, in the big carved chair, looking like a sibyl with her black silk banded head-dress severely straight across her brow, and her large dark eyes gazing out, past Felipe, into the far south sky. Ramona lived there too, with her embroidery or her book, sitting on cushions on the floor in a corner, or at the foot of Felipe's bed, always so placed, however,-- if anybody had noticed, but nobody did, -- so placed that she could look at Felipe without looking full at the Senora's chair, even if the Senora were not in it.

Here also came Alessandro many times a day,-- sometimes sent for, sometimes of his own accord. He was freely welcome. When he played or sang he sat on the upper step of the stairs leading down to the garden. He also had a secret, which he thought all his own, in regard to the positions he chose. He sat always, when Ramona was there, in the spot which best commanded a view of her face. The secret was not all his own. Felipe knew it. Nothing was escaping Felipe in these days. A bomb-shell exploding at their feet would not have more astonished the different members of this circle, the Senora, Ramona, Alessandro, than it would to have been made suddenly aware of the thoughts which were going on in Felipe's mind now, from day to day, as he lay there placidly looking at them all.

It is probable that if Felipe had been in full health and strength when the revelation suddenly came to him that Alessandro loved Ramona, and that Ramona might love Alessandro, he would have been instantly filled with jealous antagonism. But at the time when this revelation came, he was prostrate, feeble, thinking many times a day that he must soon die; it did not seem to Felipe that a man could be so weak as he was, and ever again be strong and well. Side by side with these forebodings of his own death, always came the thought of Ramona. What would become of her, if he were gone? Only too well he knew that the girl's heart would be broken; that she could not live on alone with his mother. Felipe adored his mother; but he understood her feeling about Ramona.

With his feebleness had also come to Felipe, as is often the case in long illnesses, a greater clearness of perception. Ramona had ceased to puzzle him. He no longer asked himself what her long, steady look into his eyes meant. He knew. He saw it mean that as a sister she loved him, had always loved him, and could love him in no other way. He wondered a little at himself that this gave him no more pain; only a sort of sweet, mournful tenderness towards her. It must be because he was so soon going out of the world, he thought. Presently he began to be aware that a new quality was coming into his love for her. He himself was returning to the brother love which he had had for her when they were children together, and in which he had felt no change until he became a man and Ramona a woman. It was strange what a peace fell upon Felipe when this was finally clear and settled in his mind. No doubt he had had more misgiving and fear about his mother in the matter than he had ever admitted to himself; perhaps also the consciousness of Ramona's unfortunate birth had rankled at times; but all this was past now. Ramona was his sister. He was her brother. What course should he pursue in the crisis which he saw drawing near? How could he best help Ramona? What would be best for both her and Alessandro? Long before the thought of any possible union between himself and Ramona had entered into Alessandro's mind, still longer before it had entered into Ramona's to think of Alessandro as a husband, Felipe had spent hours in forecasting, plotting, and planning for them. For the first time in his life he felt himself in the dark as to his mother's probable action. That any concern as to Ramona's personal happiness or welfare would influence her, he knew better than to think for a moment. So far as that was concerned, Ramona might wander out the next hour, wife of a homeless beggar, and his mother would feel no regret. But Ramona had been the adopted daughter of the Senora Ortegna, bore the Ortegna name, and had lived as foster-child in the house of the Morenos. Would the Senora permit such a one to marry an Indian?

Felipe doubted. The longer he thought, the more he doubted. The more he watched, the more he saw that the question might soon have to be decided. Any hour might precipitate it. He made plan after plan for forestalling trouble, for preparing his mother; but Felipe was by nature indolent, and now he was, in addition, feeble. Day after day slipped by. It was exceedingly pleasant on the veranda. Ramona was usually with him; his mother was gentler, less sad, than he had ever seen her. Alessandro was always at hand, ready for any service,-- in the field, in the house,-- his music a delight, his strength and fidelity a repose, his personal presence always agreeable. "If only my mother could think it," reflected Felipe, "it would be the best thing, all round, to have Alessandro stay here as overseer of the place, and then they might be married. Perhaps before the summer is over she will come to see it so."

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